Today I offer something a little different: an interview with fellow author Dave Schroeder, one of the great friends I have found through the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company. Dave is the author of the science fiction novel Xenotech Rising.
Dave Schroeder, pronounced SHRAY-der, is a retired Chief Information Officer who has written and produced a musical off-off-Broadway in New York along with writing his first book. He lives in suburban Atlanta and enjoys performing with and writing for The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company and acting in community theatre productions. He has a wonderfully supportive wife and a daughter who’s just graduated from college. Dave is well into the second volume in the Xenotech Support series, which is due for release in 2016.
1. What first sparked the idea for Xenotech Rising?
DS: The first scene, about the aliens asking Earth to join the Galactic Free Trade Association, just popped into my head one day and I wrote it down on a napkin to make sure I didn’t lose it. The need for someone to support all the galactic tech down the road naturally suggested itself based on all the years of experience I’ve had doing tech support for various forms of high tech.
2. What aspects of the book are you proudest of?
DS: Finishing it, for one. It’s my first book. I’ve had lots of ideas over this years but this is the first one I got across the finish line. I’m also proud of the fact that readers seem to be really enjoying my characters.
3. What do you think will draw readers to the book, and what do you hope they will take away from it?
DS: I think the action and the humor will draw readers to the book, but the characters and the love story will keep them wanting more. That’s a good thing, since I hope to make Xenotech Support an on-going series. I hope readers will take away lots of smiles and a laugh or three. The book is a romp, not “serious” literature—it’s designed to be fun, not a slog. I hope they’ll also take away their own thoughts about what might happen if we do join something like the Galactic Free Trade Association someday. Not every encounter with aliens has to result in humans being a key ingredient for a recipe. I hope my new series will offer a sense of optimism not often seen in a lot of modern science fiction.
4. What would you say are the key characteristics of a good science fiction novel? (Give a couple or three examples.)
DS: I think good science fiction novels should stretch our minds and help readers think about things from new perspectives. The best SF novels take characters that feel “real” and put them in situations that would only be possible in the fictional universes authors create for us. Some authors paint miniatures, like Ursula K. Le Guin’s exploration of relationships on a world with fluid gender in The Left Hand of Darkness. Some paint on vast canvases, like David Weber’s epic space battles in his Honor Harrington series. But all good science fiction makes us think and feel in ways we couldn’t without the help of the special features of the author’s science fictional universe. Ernest Cline explores the power of friendship in a science fictional world where virtual reality has become so powerful that literally anything can happen in Ready Player One, A Novel. Cline blurs the line between science fiction and fantasy, but it’s not a hard line. I see science fiction and fantasy as Siamese twins, eternally bound, much the same but with slightly different “rules.”
6. What would you like to see more of in science fiction? What would you like to see less of in the genre?
DS: I don’t have as much time as I’d like to read a lot of science fiction these days, so I tend to stick to favorite authors unless something, like Ready Player One, is recommended to me, so I’m not in a good position to talk about trends in the genre as a whole. My sense of things is that the field, despite, or maybe even because of the Sick Puppies controversy, seems to be quite healthy, with lots of authors turning out a broad range of high quality work. I think the self-publishing revolution is helping voices be heard that might have never gotten audiences in the past, though it’s also increased the amount of poorly written prose on the market. Reviews help sort the wheat from the chaff. I find the explosion in discussion about science fiction, thanks to social media, wonderful, by the way.
As to what I’d like to see less of in the genre, I’d say I’m not happy with the amount of derivative, “me, too” kinds of novels that jump on a trend and elaborate on it without adding anything truly new to their fictional universes. Some of the urban fantasy these days feels like the authors couldn’t figure out unique twists for their worlds. I’d also like to see less SF, particularly military SF, with cardboard characters. I’ve got a few characters like that in Xenotech Rising, but they know they’re cardboard and can wink at the reader about their status, which is part of the fun.
It’s been a great pleasure to share and reflect with your readers, Nan. Thanks so much for the opportunity.
If any of the folks reading your blog would like to get a copy of Xenotech Rising, they can find it on Amazon in Kindle or trade paperback format at the following link: http://www.amazon.com/Xenotech-Rising-Galactic-Association-Support/dp/0692447288. They’re also welcome to check out the Xenotech Support web site at http://www.xenotechsupport.com, where they can see pictures of some of the aliens described in the book and check out a preview of the cover of the next volume in the series, Xenotech: Queen’s Gambit.